USCIS recently proposed a substantial increase in immigration filing fees, which will likely go into effect this summer. After a review of operating costs, USCIS found that current filing fees are too low to cover the cost of the services it provides, leaving the agency with an annual shortfall of $560 million. Approximately 95 percent of USCIS funding comes from filing fees collected from applicants and petitioners, with the remaining 5 percent covered by discretionary appropriation from Congress.
The highest fee increases will apply to employment-based filings, such as a 42 percent increase for filing Form I-129 for H-1B professionals and L-1 intracompany transfers (from $325 to $460), and a 21 percent increase for filing Form I-140 to petition a nonimmigrant worker for permanent resident status (from $580 to $700). The most significant increase, however, would be to the EB-5 visa program for immigrants investing at least $1 million in the United States and creating at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers. The filing fee for the corresponding Form I-526 will increase by 145 percent, from $1,500 to $3,675. Fees will also increase substantially for EB-5 Regional Centers, which are U.S. entities that petitioners may invest in to indirectly satisfy the job creation requirement. The proposed change will increase the initial filing fee to designate these regional centers from $6,230 to $17,795, and will create a new annual fee of $3,035. Fees for many family-sponsored petitions and other benefits will also increase under the proposed rule, such as filings for employment authorization, advanced parole, and reentry for permanent residents. Premium processing fees, however, will remain at $1,225.
Interested stakeholders may submit comments on the proposed rule until July 5, 2016.